Dead Snow Review

The Film

There are a number of issues in our world that it's important to take a stand on. It's important to be able to justify why we mortgage our economies to banks, for instance. It's important to be able to put the case for why Holly Willoughby is a definite improvement on Fern Britton in a simple TV presentation sense rather than simple rank ageism. More crucial than both these topics of the day is a subject which I have spoken out on before - the fact that Nazi zombies are the very pinnacle of home entertainment.

I believe the support for this message spreads far and wide, and indeed there may have been some far sighted individuals who took the same stand before I opined. I am particularly glad to find that the desire to add to the legacy of movies like Zombie Lake, Outpost, and Shockwaves has motivated Norwegian whipper snapper Tommy Wirkola to nail his colours to the mast as well. Wirkola's slacker bodycount zomcom undoubtedly knows about the previous history of zombies on film and owes a great deal to great horror movies of the last 30 years per se.
Yet his movie departs from previous Nazi zombie flicks in three important ways. Firstly, it is explicitly referential in the Kevin Williamson sense - there is a movie nerd character and some obvious homages thrown in to make the audience feel in on the joke. Secondly, there are a number of black comedy moments to remind you that it's only a film and it's all a bit silly isn't it. Finally, its clever insight into the legacy of the final solution, the war crimes of the Nazis, and their foul attempts to "purge" the human race is that if you want to stop a Nazi give him what he wants. I half expected a credit for Neville Chamberlain for this inspired notion.

The hoary old story, excused by some knowing film nerd dialogue, is that some slacker students intend to spend their holidays in a ski lodge and discover it is beset by a former battalion of the Third Reich who want their stolen loot back. So with knowing humour as an excuse for larceny, we patch ideas from the Evil Dead, Friday the 13th, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Thing and so on into the story of the slaughter of a thoroughly unmissable bunch of twentysomethings. Narrative wanders from character to character and none of it really hangs together as a straight horror film - and it is a relief when the action relents and descends into silliness and self parody.
It's a pretty shameless attempt to reach out to a yoof market who don't want their concentration span lengthened. Its "homage" from other and better films is legion and obvious and it is only when it starts playing with some of its own ideas that it really comes alive. For example it riffs on what you do if a zombie bites and chooses first the Evil Dead 2 solution only to be struck by a greater issue when a second bite is in a far less disposable place. The best sequence here is the orgy of destruction as two of the friends tool up and face an onslaught of zombie paratroopers, SS, and basic infantry in a flurry of chainsaw and sledgehammer that can't help but leave you cheering.

By then though those hoping for balls to the wall horror have been disappointed by jokes parachuted in for effect and the complete lack of any attempt to develop a convincing milieu. The characters are very unlikable jocks and nerds and the only faintly sympathetic one, the film nerd, is dispatched the moment he gets some girl action - in typical bodycount movie manner. Still, this is what a lot of people can put up with in basic bodycount movies and I don't suppose Dead Snow is anything other than that for all its knowingness.
It's Nazi zombies with a few moments that you might cheer, but this is basically a rather disposable experience and a sketchy one at that. I like my horror to take itself a little more seriously than this, and I like my comedy to be funnier, Dead Snow is dumb and silly but not always in a good way.

Technical Specs

Now this is quite a bright transfer with very shiny snow and night time sequences which will have you resetting your black levels. There seems to be quite a bit of digital noise and aliasing and the colours seem too strong to me. This isn't a perfect transfer, but this isn't a megabucks film and what you get here is still a very acceptable if not outstanding hi-def transfer.
There are two high def audio options with a LPCM stereo mix and a 5.1 master audio track as well. The stereo track is very nice with a bitrate up to 1500kbps, it manages the rawk music well and copes with what I imagine are not the most sophisticated raw materials. The master audio track gives you much more in the way of dimension and this fact, especially in the climactic action sequences and the spooky night-time setpieces, is very welcome. Both soundtracks did not seem crystal clear to me but again I imagine this is down to the original materials.

Extras

Dead Snow comes with 4 trailers of varying lengths along with forced trailers for the likes of From Within and the promising looking Parasomnia. Nearly all of the extras are hi-def with the featurettes using LPCM tracks as well. The making of documentary follows filming, even through to the moments when the crew start packing up. A lot of the crew are mates of the filmmakers from earlier projects and there is lots of goofing off for the camera including a harmonious group of Nazi zombies! There's a little from Wirkola and a lot on how difficult snow makes filming in a breezy piece.

The FX featurette looks at the post processing of the film including the use of CGI for some of the gory effects and stunts. The make-up short covers making moulds for body parts and transforming extras into zombies. The piece on going to Sundance is more of excerpts from a video diary as the running time gives some space for the film's reception there but centres on larking in hotel suites and getting stuck on the plane there.

The menus make the most of the iconography and are suitably witty, if less than simple to navigate around. The dual layer disc is about two thirds used with the main transfer taking 22.1GB.

Summary

Nazi zombies, I tell ya. Yet the constant borrowing of ideas from very well known horror films does become wearing as do the annoying slackers - this is all saved though by a glorious battle between axe, chainsaw and zombie army and a few well aimed gags. The Region B blu-ray presentation is welcome for a film that has few other releases which are English friendly

Film
6 out of 10
Video
6 out of 10
Audio
6 out of 10
Extras
6 out of 10
Overall

6

out of 10

Last updated: 07/05/2018 16:14:42

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